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From the publisher's description of the book:
"VAGINA WARRIORS is a unique
collaboration between playwright/activist/V-Day founder Eve Ensler, creator of
the international hit The Vagina Monologues, and world-renowned
photographer Joyce Tenneson, whose Wise Women changed the way people look at
women and aging. The book features Ensler's essay alongside Tenneson's
portraits of V-Day activists, many of them well-known celebrities, with
powerful statements and quotations from the subjects. Ensler has dubbed these
women and men, who are committed to ending violence against women and girls
throughout the world, Vagina Warriors. The celebrities featured include
Glenn Close, Salma Hayek, Gloria Steinem, Isabella Rossellini, Jane Fonda, and
Vagina Warriors are at the very
heart of V-Day, the global movement founded by Ensler. Every February to March,
local activists raise awareness and funds through V-Day benefit productions of
The Vagina Monologues and other events. The movement is growing rapidly
throughout the world. V-Day has so far raised more than $20 million and was named
one of Worth magazine's 100 Best Charities." (Copyright 2005 by Time Warner Bookmark)
"Eve Essler's proceeds from
the sale of Vagina Warriors will benefit V-Day." (Publication page)
All of them? A portion? A 2002 San
Francisco V-Day "raised $500,000" (p. 115) and the "money was
distributed among twenty-four anti-violence organizations." All of it? The
theater donated their services? Finally, near the end (p. 137), some reality:
"The Vagina Monologues donated a portion of each ticket sold to
V-Day. . . ." Full disclosure promotes a cause and free use above costs to
organizations forwarding the work underscores sincerity. Ultimately, all such
movements, such as those using the "lost-child-on-milk-carton"
approach (p. 67) must face Marx's charge of "utopian socialism" (painfully
close to his own program) or even "ideological domination." (My
social-worker first wife used to toss back by the tail horseshoe crabs that
seemed compelled by the "structure"
["basis"/"nature"] of things to continue beaching themselves.)
Culturally, someone has to begin a new practice, as a man in Egypt some 3000
years ago seems to have done, mutilating women genitally. [I wish I knew who
started mutilating males.] Study of societies back millennia, even though
mostly reported by male social scientists, has shown me, not surprisingly, a
gross imbalance in gender-role power. I don't expect the "pendulum"
to "swing back" soon. (Nelson Mandela is a person who, if anyone had
"the right," could have swung a pendulum back with a vengeance.)
Leafing through smilingly fulfilled
faces in the book, sometimes hauntingly edged with pain, I was pleased to see
friends (and sisters) on pages 22 (encouraging Palestinian-Israeli
togetherness), 28 (endearing student friends), 25, and loving sisters, pages 68
and 89, crowned, finally, by heartwarming mothers and daughters (as on page
17). Of the mostly single photos, it is the seemingly barely transcended pain
of Esther Chavez Cano (p. 132) that stays with me. Most impressive is Kenyan
Winifridah Anyango's help empowering 150,000 women and girls to resist abuses
The few men in the book are
relegated to the status of "co-women" as if men were not fathers in
positive ways to sons and daughters as well and many do not suffer from
enculturated insecurities expressing themselves in the will to power and
ownership nicely phrased by sociologist Kingsley Davis as the "jealousy
and sexual property" theme. "Fe-," "wo-," and the
"-(s)hah" of Genesis implies the "female" is derived from
male, the detritus of that which is not "male," rather than that
expressed in Ashley-Montagu's view that
XY is a more illness-prone, "broken," XX. This underscores a
"we are all (biologically) one" balanced view that would place
mother-son, father-daughter, brother-sister together in communities of damaged
"cadres" for action. "V-Day exists for no other reason than to
stop violence against women." (Publication page) [If, if fact, there is no
difference between "males/men" and "females/women" not
manufactured in the cultural process, would not V-Day be held for all human
beings rather than that "supportive" men be seen as ancillary to a
one-sidedly framed movement?] After so many centuries of abuse directed against
what ostensibly seems the "distaff" "other," balance may be
too much to hope for. And a final note
on "balance" acknowledging the (culturally) "in-between" is
the book's recognition of "transgendered" "women" whose
choice of role (p. 11, Calpernia and Andrea; p. 142, "they beat the girl
out of my boy. . .") shows some of the social-psychological flexibility
cultural forms provide.
Speaking of culture, a woman
running a safe house in Kenya (p. 140) seeks to provide "alternative
rituals" to genital mutilation and early marriage. "Sedimented"
rituals and cultural lies, like the winked-at Santa, maim us as children,
mentally and "spiritually."
On the negative side contradictions
and gross strategic misconceptions appear in the book: violence is
"indiscriminate of class, age, neighborhood, and race" (p. 136). (The
six American class levels vary tremendously in size; finding just one victim in
each class would qualify as "indiscriminate of class.") Three
sentences later the authors have "patterns" "change across
cultural lines" (thus not "indiscriminate" as to cultural category).
Class is culture, as are regional differences, "age" versus
the passage of years, and gender-role, such as assaults on Garrett's
hypostatized "femininity" (p. 61). Structurally recasting social
practices works better than merely "[changing] social attitudes"
programmatically. Little need be said about this final bit of naiveté:
"They [V-Day women] are directed by vision, not ruled by ideology."
(pp. 5, 134) There is no one not directed by ideology or Weltanschauung.
What a loss should this book lie as
a shibboleth gatekeeper on chichi coffee tables, now waned the
"(after)glow and gush" of necessarily encounter-like V-Day events.
Even worse should it become the latest "little red book."
Link: The Vagina
Monologues: Read by the author, by Eve Ensler
Link: Publisher's gallery of photographs from Vagina Warriors
© 2005 A. P. Bober
A. P. Bober has
studied a psychology spanning Skinner and a humanistic-clinical view based on
existential phenomenology and had been a PhD candidate in a substantive yet
philosophic European-based sociology including the "critical"
view. His teaching augmented courses in group theory/"small-group
developmental dynamics" (lab) while introducing "sociology of
knowledge" and "issues in biological anthropology," with
publications in the first two fields. Currently he is writing a book on
mystical experience as metaphorically tied to neurophysiology.